Chaplaincy in Queensland state schools : an investigation

Salecich, Judith Anne. (2002). Chaplaincy in Queensland state schools : an investigation PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Salecich, Judith Anne.
Thesis Title Chaplaincy in Queensland state schools : an investigation
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2002
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Prof. Philip Almond
Total pages 309
Language eng
Subjects 2204 Religion and Religious Studies
160506 Education Policy
440207 Religion and Society
750401 Religion and society
L
Formatted abstract Chaplaincy in state schools in Australia is a relatively new phenomenon. In Queensland, the first salaried Chaplain was appointed in 1987. Scripture Union (SU) Queensland appointed its first Chaplain in 1990. During the period 1990-1997, the growth in chaplaincies associated with SU Queensland was substantial. In my opinion, the phenomenon was important enough to warrant in-depth investigation and documentation. I commenced this investigation at the beginning of 1998.

My overall aim was to understand the nature and development of chaplaincy in Queensland state schools in terms of the contribution of key stakeholders (e.g.. Education Queensland, schools, local churches. Local Chaplaincy Committees [LCCs], SU Queensland). To achieve this aim, I used issues as the conceptual structure and issue questions as the primary research questions. I used case study as the basic research approach. The "case'' was the set of chaplaincy services utilizing SU Queensland as employing authority. I selected nine sites (or sub-units) based on characteristics of the school (e.g., location: metropolitan or non-metropolitan), the LCC (e.g., the Chaplain's employment status: part-time or full-time) and the Chaplain (e.g., age, gender, denomination, time in the job). The investigation combined qualitative and quantitative data and methods, although a qualitative approach predominated. I used the computer software QSR NUD*IST 4 to enhance data analysis. This thesis, the culminating product of my investigation, is an interpretive account of the phenomenon of chaplaincy in Queensland state schools. The thesis structure reflects the emergent nature of the research design and the developmental nature of the phenomenon. In retrospect, I believe my research approach to be the most appropriate for the purposes of the investigation.

This thesis is significant in that it contributes to knowledge and understanding about the topic, informs policy-makers, validates the worth of chaplaincy in state schools, informs stakeholders and practitioners and, in a wider context, contributes to Australian social and religious history.

Chaplaincy in Queensland state schools arose as a grassroots movement in the 1980s. While SU Queensland played a significant role in leading and coordinating the movement at state level from the late 1980s through the 1990s, chaplaincy services were established as the result of concerted campaigns at local level. Education Queensland played a significant (albeit reluctant) leadership role in the movement in the period 1991-1993, but little role after that. In contrast, throughout the 1990s, SU Queensland played an important integrative and quality control and resource function in relation to chaplaincy.

Chaplaincy contributes to the accumulation of social capital in school and local communities. It provides a significant opportunity for local churches to work together in the community. Importantly, it serves to increase cooperation among people in local communities generally. Schools are embracing and owning chaplaincy, as are many communities touched by the work of Chaplains. State school chaplaincy in Queensland is about community development, which is undoubtedly its greatest strength. Education Queensland policy, procedures and guidelines, together with the "SU model" of chaplaincy, both of which emphasize local responsibility and local ownership, enabled chaplaincy to develop in this manner.

Chaplains provide a "public service", one valued in communities because of the quality of their work and the good they are perceived to be doing. They are excellent adult role models. State school chaplaincy is essentially a pastoral ministry: Chaplaincy is relational. Chaplains perform a unique and much-needed support role in Queensland state schools.

There are, however, a number of concerns. For example, there appears to be a lack of understanding and consensus among key stakeholders at state and local level in relation to their roles in the establishment and operation of chaplaincy services. While there is a reasonable level of expressed agreement among key stakeholders regarding the aims of chaplaincy, commitment varies considerably, especially at local level. There is ambiguity about the role of Chaplain among Chaplains' role-partners. On the whole, supervision and support of Chaplains seems to be inadequate.

The main issues for consideration and further research concern communication and collaboration among stakeholders, clarification and transmission of stakeholder roles (e.g., of Chaplains, LCCs, SU Queensland, Education Queensland), induction and inservice training of Chaplains and LCC personnel, supervision of Chaplains, funding, ownership, and the necessity for a collaborative review of policy, procedures and guidelines goveming chaplaincy services in Queensland state schools.
Keyword Church work with students
School chaplains -- Queensland
Additional Notes The author has given permission for this thesis to be made open access.

 
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